book review

Ghosts, Legends, and Layered Plots | The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 9/18/12
Pages: 409
Source: purchased
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Blue has always stayed away from the students of the all-boys school, they are always the same: jerks. However, when she finds out that a boy named Gansey is going to die soon, Blue needs to find out more. Gansey feels like he is so close to completing his life-long quest in discovering The Raven King, a man of legend. Joined by Blue, and his three best friends—Adam, Ronan and Noah—Gansey makes progress in finding the man he has been searching for so long.

Maggie Stiefvater

  • Confession: I have never read a book written by Maggie Stiefvater. I went into this book with little to no expectations. It has been recommended to me several times by several amazing individuals. I knew I was going to read it, based on their rave reviews of the series. And, thank you, for those recommendations because this is a book you should have read yesterday; the characters are amazing, the story is entertaining, and I just need to know more!
  • I was incredibly surprised how easy Stiefvater’s writing consumed me. The easy dialogue between characters, the fabulous descriptions of the setting and the curious plot had me turning pages like never before.
  • I cannot rave about her writing enough. Stiefvater places us right in the middle of these five lives that we get to piece together through development and situations. I kept getting the feeling that it was as if I knew these characters all my life. The character development was superb.

A Character-Driven Plot

  • Out of all the raven boys, I found myself most drawn to Adam. His character is wonderfully developed, his story is captivating and you just want to know more about him. He is also extremely sweet and gentle.
  • Ronan is a boy with secrets and as the series goes on, I hope readers get a bit more glances his way. He is strong and tough, with a secretive past that no one really knows the whole truth of. His character is intriguing and I’m excited to see what direction Stiefvater will have Ronan take in the sequel.
  • There were some scenes that lulled, especially in the beginning. It may have been the introduction of all the characters that seemed to go a bit slow. Readers do not truly get into the meat of the story until a hundred pages in. 
  • I couldn't help but wonder if Maggie Stiefvater was setting up the stage for Blue to either be in a love triangle or a love square. This is about to get messy, folks! I don't mind love triangles but when you add four people to the mix it does get a bit repetitive. Despite that, Blue’s romance was unpredictable. Stiefvater may be bringing in a love square but since Blue cannot kiss anyone, it makes for a different way to look at love interests. I liked it that way. Readers know from the start the potential of how it would end (if Blue were to kiss anyone) but you don't know how Blue’s romance (and between whom) will begin.
  • This series is going to be very character-driven. All the characters are very well written and developed. It'll be fun to see what crazy things they do next.

Chilling and Peculiar


  • Presently, I usually go into books blind so I always know very little about the plot. However, I didn’t realize I knew a little more about the book before going into it. The trees speak Latin. I've been seeing merchandise for that quote in so many stores around the web and didn't know where the quote was from. Now I know. I don't think seeing the merchandise spoiled me. However, I feel that if I didn't know the trees had already spoke Latin, I do think I would be a little more spooked out than I was. A lot of the scenes in The Raven Boys are rather creepy, the tone has a sort-of energy that weighs you down. The Raven Boys is the book that you read on a dark and stormy night. It has a chilling, peculiar plot that will give you shivers up your spine.
  • The Raven Boys was entirely unpredictable. I didn’t know what direction it would go in. The climax was fantastic with incredible action that kept me on my toes. However, knowing the series’ book titles, I can certainly guess what will happen by book four, The Raven King.
  • I was expecting a horrid cliffhanger and was extremely surprised to not find one. It ended on a high note. It may have not been a cliffhanger but I cannot wait to read the sequel. 

Overall

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was absolutely fantastic with in-depth characters that make you fall in love, a gorgeous story that throws you right into the action, and a wonderful build-up to make you want more. This book is the first in The Raven Cycle series and I will definitely be continuing this one. The sequel, The Dream Thieves, is out and waiting for me to read what happens next to Blue and her boys. If you love legends, ghosts and layered plots, The Raven Boys is the book you need to read next.


The Raven Boys (9/18/12): 4 stars
The Dream Thieves (9/17/13): TBD
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (10/21/14): TBD
The Raven King (4/26/16): TBD

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Meant to Read in 2019 But Didn't

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I may have read 147 books last year but I missed out on a few that I definitely meant to get to. I kept telling myself that I would read them before the end of the year. And now that the end of the year has passed us by, I still haven’t read these books.


Here’s 10 books I meant to get to last year and didn’t:


Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman: I just acquired this a few months ago so I’m giving myself a pass on finishing it in the year of 2019. However, it was one of my most anticipated reads of last year and am just so excited to finally read it!

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker: I am so intrigued by this title. I still have no clue what this is about. Yet, I picked it up because of the title. And there is sits on my shelf. I’ll get to it soon, I hope.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo: This one was on a few of my TBRs throughout the year. I’ve liked Maurene Goo’s previous work. This one focuses on a romance between a kpop star and a paparazzi. I suppose I have to be in the mood for these types of novels because there are just so many celebrity romance stories out there.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I try to get to at least 5 classics a year and last year, I picked out Little Women because it was being adapted into a film in December. The movie is now in theaters and I still haven’t seen it since I haven’t read the book. Hopefully, I’ll read it soon so I catch the movie while it’s still showing.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: I know I will love this one. It’s a fantasy with magic and time travel. It’s going to be great. It just has so many pages and it looks like a giant sitting on my shelf that it’s a bit daunting.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson: I have read a total of one Morgan Matson book ever, even though I own at least three of her books. This one focuses on a wedding, where everything that can go wrong does.


The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: This book is always in my advertisements for Scribd for some reason. It serves as a good reminder that I need to read it. I’ve had it since it released in paperback. Dystopian is not really my thing anymore but it’s such a strange premise that I’m still willing to give it a go.

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez: I have the case of sequel syndrome, in which I don’t want to pick up the sequel to Sweet Black Waves in fear that it isn’t as good as the first. Someday, though.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: I’ve picked this one up last year several times when choosing TBRs. It’s gotten lots of buzz and now that the sequel is out, I want to read it more.


Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: I’ve never read a Kagawa book either, despite having many of her books on my shelf. The sequel to this recently released and it reminded me that I was supposed to have read this one by now. I am hesitant because I have this weird peeve in books with talking animals and I believe there’s a talking fox in this (though I might be wrong).

What book did you mean to read last year and didn't?

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: January 2020

Friday, January 03, 2020

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. The concept of a TBR Jar is not a new one. I’ve seen it used in various ways throughout the bookish community. My jar will be a little different. The goal is to read the older books on my to-read pile. Thus, instead of putting individual book titles on a small sheet of paper to place in the jar, I wrote a month and a year on each. Each month, I intend to pull three sheets of paper from my jar which will dictate which three books I will read. The dates on the paper correspond with the date I added those books to my Goodreads account. Some months will have over 20 books to choose from, when others may have only one. From Goodreads, I’ll choose the three books from the three different monthly hauls. And if I cannot complete the book within the month, it will be unhauled (with the exception of one pass each month).


Since it’s the new year, we are starting fresh this month so I will not be discussing last month’s picks.

From the jar, I picked from the June 2013, July 2014, and August 2015 book hauls. From there I chose the following books:


Switched by Amanda Hocking: I own this entire series, as well as another series by Hocking and I’ve never once read her books. Switched follows a girl who turns out to be a changeling, a supernatural creature switched at birth with a human child. It sounds good, albeit a little tropey, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson: A nonfiction pick. This one has been on my shelf for such a long time so it’ll be good to finally shake the dust off.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche: I was surprised I pulled two non-fiction from the jar. Nonfiction is something I read very sparingly; I usually have to be in the mood for that specific book. However, I’m going to give both of these a try. This one is actually a travel memoir about following your heart; it sounds lovely!

What are you reading this month?

best of 2019

Bookish Goals for the New Year (2020)

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year! 2019 is over! 2020 is here! I have quite a few goals this year that I hope to accomplish. However, I start my graduate program this year which may affect my reading a bit. I know when I was working towards my bachelor’s degree, I only had time to read my textbooks between all my classes and homework. Still, I’m hoping for the best and by the end of the year, I can look back at this post and see how well I really did! Here’s my bookish goals for the new year:

Read at least 50 books

This goal remains a constant every year. Sometimes it’s easy to surpass, sometimes I have some difficulty. I finished 2019 off with 147 books read so I definitely didn’t have trouble hitting it last year. It all depends on what I’m doing during the year and what things I’m prioritizing. I probably will not be able to make it to 140 books this year or even 100 but that’s okay. I have to learn to go easy on myself. As long as I read at least 50 books, I’ll count it a success.

Continue using my TBR jar

My TBR jar doesn’t contain book titles. It contains a bunch of dates with the month and the year. I usually pick out three dates and pull a book title that I hauled in that month to read. It’s worked well so far. I tend to only pick out three books and then read two from those. In the new year, I hope to continue picking from the jar. It’s been a great way to work on the loads of backlist books I own.

Buy less books

I did much better in 2019 than I did in 2018 when it came to purchasing or acquiring books. And, hopefully, in 2020, I can beat the number of books purchased in 2019. In 2019, I received about 100 books. I’m looking toward my graduate program to distract me in not purchasing as many books. 2020 is the year I practice shelf control. 😊

Read at least 3 classics

I failed miserably at this last year, totaling the year out at only 2 classics read (when I wanted to read 5). However, I’m determined to read these as they’ve been sitting on my shelf for a while now. Here’s the three I hope to get to:


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens | Little Women by Louisa May Alcott | Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Read at least 6 epic reads of a lifetime

My brother got me this lovely scratch-off poster of 100 Epic Reads of a Lifetime for Christmas. I immediately scratched off the ones I already read and have only read around 30 books. So, I guess I need to get reading. Most of the books were on my to-read list already and some I even own already. To keep myself accountable, I want to try to read at least 6 of the books this year. Here’s the 6 I hope to read:


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro | And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie | Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy | A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin | The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Finish at least 6 series

I only completed 11 series last year in an attempt to get to my goal at 12 finished series. So I’m bringing the goal down to 6 series, since I am anticipating less reading this year with school. Here’s the series I hope to finally finish this year:


Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (1 book left) | Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (1 book left) | The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (2 books left)


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (2 books left) | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (2 books left) | Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (2 books left)

What are your bookish goals for 2020?

best of 2019

Every 5 Star Book I Read This Year (2019)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I don’t give many 5 stars out. It’s crazy to think that I read 147 books this year and I only gave 5 stars to 21 books. However, if they got full marks, they usually make it onto my favorite list and instead of giving a structured top 10 list of my favorites, I wanted to showcase each and every favorite of the year.


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is: Top Favorite Books of the Year (2019):


Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen: Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen is Jane Austen meets The Bachelor. It was a fun, riveting, and entertaining read! If you like Jane Austen, fangirling, and just an all-around amazing time, you need to pick this one up.

The Wickerlight by Mary Watson: The Wickerlight was a glorious companion to The Wren Hunt. It was atmospheric and magical, a novel that will have you on the edge of your seat.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: I rarely read graphic novels but I just had a feeling about this one. It is an absolutely lovely and endearing story. And the art is stunning! It holds such a powerful message to all readers. And it is definitely a book I will return to again and again.


Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon: Another one I gave many heart eyes to. This is such a phenomenal fantasy! The twists and turns kept me on my toes. There’s an unexpected mystery at the heart of this and I was living for it. Kelly Coon’s writing was captivating and immersive. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz: Laurie Faria Stolarz is one of my favorite authors of all time. Deadly Little Voices is the fourth out of five books in the series. Each Touch book has the same plot outline: creepy letters/files/etc. introduces new stalker that leads Camelia figuring the mystery out. It may be the same outline but I don’t mind—the outline works. I would read 10 more of these books.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab: Why did this take me so long to read? I took me weeks to finish this. I was savoring every moment. The original trilogy is over and it’s devastating. I’m hoping Schwab will return with more since the ending was left open for more. A reader can dream, right?!


Well Met by Jen DuLuca: This book was everything I wanted and didn’t know I needed. A romance set at a Renaissance Faire? It’s ingredients for the perfect novel! The writing was a bit rough in the beginning but as the story progressed, the writing improved immensely.

As Kismet Would Have It by Sandhya Menon: This short story started my month off right, kicking my ugly reading slump to the curb. It was so cool to hear what Rishi and Dimple have been up to since When Rishi Met Dimple ended.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: Love, love, love this one! I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As soon as I finished the book, I spent the next day just reading my favorite parts again in order to quench my raging book hangover. It was amazing! I don’t reread books very often but this one will likely get a reread at some point; it was just that good.


Refraction by Naomi Hughes: Sci-fi isn’t really my thing but Refraction was so fast paced with lots of outstanding twists. I can’t wait to reread it!

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Soon after rereading the first book in the series, it was finally time to continue and this book blew away all my expectations. Mara Dyer was such a fantastic unreliable narrator in the first book but Hodkin kicks it up to a whole new level. And that ending leaves you in dire need of the third and final book!

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: This was one crazy ride! This entire series is absolutely mind-blowing. The twists and turns are enough to go back for multiple rereads. This finale was everything I wanted and whole lot I didn’t even expect. It was great!


Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen: If this series could go on for forever, that would be great. Please and thank you.

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover: Wow! I’m so glad I finally picked this one up. This is the second book I’ve read from Colleen Hoover and most definitely not my last. Amazing!

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi: So it’s been a good five years since I read the first book, Shatter Me. And it’s been a goal of mine to try and continue in the series and finally this year, I decided to give the sequel a try. And I loved it!


Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry: A 5-star prediction came true! I haven’t read a Katie McGarry book since her debut, Pushing the Limits, released but I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read more from her. Only a Breath Apart was fantastic, with a few unexpected dark elements and a looming family curse.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: I was so surprised how amazing this one was. Like, why did I wait so long to read it? It takes on a whole new angle of The Wizard of Oz, a look into what happens after the story we all know. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi: This one gets all the love! Choi created such amazing and real characters with real issues. Sam and Penny were so adorable! I wish we get a sequel someday.


A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I was thinking about unhauling it without reading it a couple of months ago. However, I am so glad I kept it. Caletti put tears in my eyes to how gorgeous this story is.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer: A contemporary take on Beauty and the Beast that will certainly have you on the edge of your seat. It was so difficult to put this one down with its non-stop action, strong female protagonist, and slow burn romance!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: I decided to pick this one up on a whim. All I knew about it was that it’s loved by many and it’s a children’s book. I thought it was a picture book but as there are only a few pictures, I wouldn’t categorize it as such. However, it was a lovely piece of art. The writing was so melodic and enticing. Plus, it holds such valuable discussion about humanity, Earth, and imagination.

What were your favorite books of the year?